Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wow do we need more of this!

Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix just did something crazy.   Here's the trailer:

Bishop Olmsted didn't just write a letter, he put a trailer together for it (#Blackstone Films!), but he created a website for men to visit as well.  You can visit the website by clicking here:

Also, what a timely topic!  Masculinity and Catholicism are viewed by some as being polar opposite - and here is a bishop standing up and saying "NO!"  Christ and the Church show us how to be masculine, how to use our masculinity for good, and that one need not be neutered to become a Christian.

Spread the good news.  Thank you Bishop Olmsted!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Criticizing the Pope

There is a VAST difference between the following two statements

1) I WISH Pope Francis would say __________________________________


2) Pope Francis SHOULD BE saying ________________________________

The Church says that ONE MAN is in position to be guided by the Holy Spirit on what to say, when to say it, and on what not to say and when not to say it.  That is the Pope.

If you've decided that the Pope should be saying something that he's not, that is a VERY DANGEROUS manifestation of spiritual pride, and, to put it simply, you should check yourself, particularly if you are a Catholic.

A person who is saying #2 above has NO IDEA what the Holy Spirit is putting on Pope Francis' heart.  We may get to Heaven one day and there see that the Holy Spirit was putting something on Pope Francis' heart, and Pope Francis ignored it (and that will likely be something we'll all see happened to all of us at some point) but to say you KNOW that the Holy Spirit IS putting something on Pope Francis' heart, and that you KNOW he's not responding properly is simultaneously arrogant and ignorant and is to claim powers of insight that no human person actually has.

We know, as Catholics, that there are certain things that the Holy Father will never come out and say, but beyond that, in terms of what the Holy Spirit is telling the Holy Father to address, we can only ever guess.  Until we're made Pope.

Homily text and video: "Is Pope Francis Communist?"

The text I preached off of is a bit "outliney"

Pope Francis’s visit has been AWESOME!!!

If you’ve listened to all that he has had to say and nothing has given you something to work on, you haven’t been paying attention!

Pope Francis has noted many great things that Americans are doing and have been traditionally known for

He sees in our country a Church that, unlike the rest of the first world, actually still has a pulse

One of the things that he has challenged us ALL on is VERY relevant to the second reading today: “you have withheld the wages of your laborers and have lived a life of luxury”

Some have heard the Pope speak this week and have torn their garments in frustration – “This guy is such a Communist.  Why doesn’t he like capitalism?  Doesn’t he know that the way people get out of poverty is by companies providing jobs for people?

Point 1: what the Holy Father has said is the EXACT same thing that the Church has been saying, that Pope John Paul II was saying, that Pope Benedict was saying, etc. – capitalism has to be practiced with reference to the Truth – it doesn’t just work on its own without being informed by virtue.

Point 2: Communism didn’t take, including in South American countries, for no reason.  The industrial revolution began a new phase of human society, and industrialization has, from its beginnings, been a temptation to treat people like machines.  The Church has always warned and been very emphatic that this is a HORRIBLE INJUSTICE.  In fact, Catholic Social Teaching came out of the Church’s attempt to guide industrialization to be more just

Point 3: The Church has ALWAYS taught that Communism is intrinsically evil and always wrong.  It takes atheism as a starting point, so why would the Church ever advocate for it?  The Church, as almost everyone will tell you, brought down Communism in the late 80’s and early 90’s, although it will never be completely knocked out until the end of time

Point 4: There are not 3 options – Communism, Free market capitalism with no intervention, and a socialism that is a 50/50 split. 

Point 5: No system will save us.  Some systems are better than others, and what our economic system is and how it is structured matters a great deal, but we can’t pretend that once we get the laws right, the system will provide us with a utopia.  A system incorporates people, and so it also calls for ongoing vigilance – are we, at all levels, in my house, in my community, in my state, in my country – are things as just as they can be?  Am I behaving as justly as God is calling me to be?

So, let’s look at the reading from James. 

There are two types of sin according to Church teaching – mortal and venial.  Mortal sins are deadly and it is when a person actively and knowingly commits a grave sin that severs the person from God.  God does not stop loving them, but the person chooses to turn from God.

There are also venial sins, which are not deadly, but are still damaging to us

Within the set of mortal sins, however, there are 4 sins that CRY OUT TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE – and one of them is what James mentions today – “withholding wages from laborers”

In a positive since the Church at Vatican II – “paying a person for their work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level.” And
“Every person has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for himself and his family.  We are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods.”

OBJECTION: This is redistribution of wealth – FALSE.  The Church says that welfare should always be a temporary thing for emergencies.

OBJECTION: Putting down business owners.  NOT AT ALL – the creation of jobs in the private sector is what makes America great – the work of so many business owners is celebrated and is obviously a good thing

Take off your Republican hat for a minute.  Take off your Democrat hat for a minute.  The Church’s message on this, Jesus’ message on this, James’ message on this challenges ALL OF US.  I should ask: “HOW DOES THIS TEACHING CHALLENGE ME?

If we’re still listening to James, the Church, Jesus, the Scriptures, the Popes, the 2nd Vatican Council, etc. what are we to do?

1)    I can’t go out and pay the migrant more…so I should do what Pope Francis said last night “Start with myself”

2)    Am I striving for simplicity?
a.     “If you make a man happier, it doesn’t matter if you also make him poorer”
b.   If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.  If materialism or consumerism is consuming you...CUT IT OFF.  Get rid of it!

3)    QUESTION: Can we do more locally?
a.     Is the lowest price always the best decision?
                                                                         i.      Not everyone can ask that question, but we can and we should
b.     Just because the sticker price of something is lower, does that mean it is right?
c.      Who makes me clothes, my shoes, my coffee, who harvests the food I eat?  If I buy something online or at a store, where does that money go? – be informed and realize that buying has consequences

4)    After starting with me I need to move to systemic questions, questions about the larger systems I’m a part of. 
a.     is greed the right thing to base our economy on?
b.     “The way you can fix the economy is by buying more things?”
c.      Does our economy reference the Truth? 
d.     What is it built on?  If it is built on the wrong principles, it will fall

“Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”  May we work continuously to see that our economy is as just as it possibly can be, and that all are able to receive that which justice demands – a job to sustain their family and provide for themselves and their families food, shelter, clothing and the basic necessities of life.  May this continual spirit of improvement, done out of love for our neighbor, start with me.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Beautiful Quote from Pope Francis...

...that was completely twisted by some in the media.

I saw one outlet that was reporting that the Pope, at Vespers at St. Pat's, admonished priests for the sex abuse crisis.

What he ACTUALLY said was beautiful and moved me a great deal.  Here's what he actually said

I know that, as a presbyterate [group of priests] in the midst of God’s people, you suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members… In the words of the Book of Revelation, I say that you “have come forth from the great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). I accompany you at this moment of pain and difficulty, and I thank God for your faithful service to his people.

Beautiful.  Pray for the victims AND for all those priests who've never done any of the evil that it is fashionable to hoist on every priest

VIDEO: Why do we have a Pope?

Capitalism Game

Each quote below was said by a particular Pope.  Guess which one said each.

“The Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism.

“It is lawful for a man to hold private property [he] should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.”

“Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves; they declared that not only would they have no need of any prior individual morality, but that they would promote a communal morality. And this ideological promise has been proved false.

“The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice.”

“Power becomes particularly irresistible when exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to speak, the lifeblood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of production, so that no one dare breathe against their will."

“Although decisively condemning “socialism,” the church, since Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, has always distanced itself from capitalistic ideology, holding it responsible for grave social injustices.”

“Working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hard-heartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition [and] a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.

ANSWERS: John Paul II, Leo XIII, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Pope Pius XI, John Paul II, 

NONE of the above were said by Pope Francis, but all were said by his predecessors

Should Pope Francis Just Say ABORTION and SAME SEX MARRIAGE?

I was blessed with a great opportunity to take in the Holy Father's speech to Congress yesterday with some of our DePauw students and faculty yesterday morning.

As I listened to the speech, I can't say I was surprised.  Some things the Holy Father mentioned explicitly - protecting the environment, the death penalty, selling arms to warring nations, etc.

Some things the Holy Father mentioned, but not explicitly.  Redefining marriage, abortion, etc.

It is quite natural, as Catholics in these USA, to beg and plead with the Holy Father - "Look, Holy Father, if you could say these things that we've been destroyed on, hated on, had family and friends turn their backs on us over...if you could back us EXPLICITLY on these things, that would really be helpful!"

So here's my take on why he didn't mention them explicitly.

When I was in the seminary, I naturally began to think about what I would preach on...and how.  A lot of what I thought I would preach on, and how, I have carried through on


There is certainly something that changes when you are made a PASTOR...when the Church LITERALLY TELLS YOU SOMETHING:

"You are RESPONSIBLE for EVERY SOUL in your parish will give an account, before God, at the end of time, on what you did to bring EVERYONE in your parish boundaries to salvation"

Think about that, folks.  That's a HECK of a statement.

When I was driving out to Brazil for my first stint as pastor, I literally almost pulled over and threw up because I was so nervous.  I wasn't nervous about the 300 people that were going to Church, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was being sent to try my best to bring the 19,000 people of Clay County to Christ.

Right before he went off the deep end, I heard a talk by Fr. John Corapi, who famously developed a following because he would routinely preach "Catholic revivals" - he would rail against all the orthodox Catholic issues - abortion, gay marriage, contraception.

Then Father Corapi, on an interview on Catholic Radio, said, in essence "I've come to appreciate more and more the position that pastors are in.  I hear from people all the time - "I wish my pastor preached with the fire and brimstone that you do" but I've begun to realize that pastors are in a different position than I am.  I can come in and preach to people and challenge them and then leave.  A pastor has to live in that community, week after week, and has to always think about how to pastor ALL these people, over years, so that they come to Christ."

The point of all this: yes, there is a part of me that wishes the Holy Father would explicitly affirm the things that I've been shredded for.  But there's only one man in the seat of pastor of the whole world, and we have to respect that.

Some will say - "If you don't preach on _________, and do it forcefully, you are not preaching on it because of cowardice."  But it isn't always cowardice.  Sometimes to not preach on something in a certain way is PRUDENT.  There is a time to be "St. John the Baptist" but there is also a time to NOT do so.

Just like parishioners who routinely make requests of me - "Father, why don't you preach on _________, and do it with gusto?" but only I am in that seat and have to discern what is the best thing to say, when to say it, and how to say it, so to we should simply pray for the Holy Father and leave it at that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What a perfect Gospel Reading for Today!

Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”  And he kept trying to see him.

John: "Your sin will land you in Hell.  Repent!"
Herod: "Boo Hoo, we were friends, but my loins need freedom.  Off with your head!"

Like the growing majority of people in our country, Herod just couldn't be expected to control his desires - the heart wants what the heart wants!

So he killed his friend John the Baptist to satiate a lover.

AND YET, in today's Gospel, Herod, even after slaying John, is still desiring to see Jesus.  There is a fascination with Christ that somehow calls to Herod.

It seems this gives us two launching points for Pope Francis visit - and both are equally true

1) the pessimistic but true launching point is that much of the excitement around Pope Francis is ephemeral, fleeting, and surface level.

Most of the papal visit selfies and so forth will be buried in people's Instagram and Twitter feeds in a matter of hours, the excitement wearing off before the fences and barricades can even be cleaned up.


We can base this off of the fact that this was the same way that most people treated JESUS CHRIST!  The crowds were often whipped into a frenzy about Jesus.  They wanted to see him.  They'd heard about him.  He could potentially heal people.  The crowds pushed in on him.  etc.  And what did we see, over and over again - they wanted a sickness cured, they wanted bread, and Jesus kept reminding them to follow him for better reasons.

This isn't to rain on the Pope Francis excitement, but it is important to be realistic...not for the sake of being realistic but for the sake of recognizing that we have a duty to help people go beyond the surface, to take this positive energy and keep the flame burning in the hearts of people.

2) The optimistic and simultaneously true launching point: There is a continuing fascination with the Church, the Pope, Jesus, etc.  

No one gets this excited when the Archbishop of Canterbury visits.  And lest we forget, the country was in a frenzy when Pope Benedict visited 7 years ago as well.  

Something about the Church's message resonates with people and when they see it and hear the message they KNOW it is true.

We need to acknowledge this so that we can also recognize the role we have in helping people UNDERSTAND WHY THE CHURCH FASCINATES THEM!  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm jacked for the Pope's visit, but...

Get this meme ready to use, and use, and use again with your Catholic friends who "go to Church every now and then" and the people who get their diet of all things Catholic from Yahoo News

Everything you need to know about Communism...

Can be summed up in the gifts their leaders give

Pope Francis: "Wow, this is offensive AND ugly AND useless
all at the same time!"

Fidel: "It's a book about me.  It is FASCINATING!"
Pope Benedict: "WOW...I can't wait to read it on the flight home."

Fidel: "I'm sure Pope Benedict told you about the book I wrote about myself,
but here's a copy for you...for FREE!"

“It is one thing to impoverish oneself; it is quite another responsibility to impoverish a whole cultural system of its culture."

GK Chesterton
The Well and the Shallows

Monday, September 7, 2015

Homily: Prayer isn't just petitions

A Good Song for Your Labor Day

I have been enjoying this song a lot lately.  "State of the Art" by Jim James

It has a great sound, and an important message at the same time.

I found these lyrics particularly spot on:

I use the state of the art
Supposed to make for better living
But are we better human beings?
We’ve got our wires all crossed
Our tubes are all tied
And I’m straining to remember

Just what it means to be alive

Sunday, September 6, 2015

On Top of the World

I've been on a lot of mountaineering trips over the years, but this one was really special, and I'm not totally sure why, I'm just really thankful to God for the chance to do this kind of thing.

Part of the gratitude and uniqueness of this particular trip was the fact that my brother Nate was not able to be there.  On my backpack I had my St. Pergrine medal and so every time I stopped for a break or needed to get something out of my pack, I was reminded of his suffering and I was reminded that I wasn't just climbing for myself but was also climbing to offer up my suffering for him.

Part of the beauty of the trip for me personally was also the realization that I won't be able to do this forever.  Past mountaineering trips felt more like business - get the kids up safely and back home - but turning 36 a few days prior to our summit attempt, and also climbing for my brother Nate helped me realize that I'm getting older and life is fragile and these opportunities don't just happen all the time.

The students were great, the staff was great, and so many people helped us get to the point where we could even make this climb.  It was a great trip, and a very spiritual adventure as well.

Jesus went off to the mountains a lot and the mountains are mentioned in Scripture all over the place.  I know why.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Some men you just can't reach"

Thanks to Mike Brummond for sharing this

Quick background - some sins are "reserved to Rome" meaning a priest can not simply absolve those particular sins in the confessional right away.  In cases were these "reserved sins" are confessed, I am to write a letter to Rome (leaving the person's name out of the letter) asking for permission to absolve a particular sin.  Rome then writes a letter back granting me that permission, and then the person comes back to the confessional and I can then absolve that sin for that person.  

Abortion is a sin that isn't reserved all the way to Rome, but it IS reserved to the local bishop, although the bishop CAN just give his priests the ability to forgive the sin of abortion immediately in the confessional.

This is MSNBC's headline today when news broke that the Pope has extended to ALL priests the ability to absolve the sin of abortion directly, WITHOUT having to write to their bishop each time.  

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis we have always had that ability delegated to us priests, so this announcement doesn't affect us anyways, but there are dioceses where priests did not have the ability to absolve the sin of abortion.

Long story short, the headline should say something like "Pope permits priests to absolve the sin of abortion"

but according to MSNBC the Pope and priest "allow abortion", and abortion is also a "Catholic sin"????

CONFERENCE: In the World, Not of the World